Wenger to decide on new role by June 14

Arsene Wenger has backed former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta (above), now Manchester City assistant coach, to be the new Gunners boss.
Arsene Wenger has backed former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta (above), now Manchester City assistant coach, to be the new Gunners boss.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Arsene Wenger admits he is still in shock after the curtain finally came down on his 22-year-reign as Arsenal manager but he will decide his next course of action by the start of the World Cup.

The Frenchman - whose final season with the Gunners came to an end without any silverware while failing to secure Champions League football for next term - revealed he had not discounted taking on a different role.

Wenger, who will travel to Russia as a pundit for Qatari-owned TV channel beIN Sports, was stood down a year before his contract was due to end amid increasing discontent both among the fans and the board.

"It's just too soon to know what I will do next," he told The Guardian in an interview in Paris this week.

"I haven't even emptied my desk yet and, in a way, I am still in a state of shock. I am going to give myself until June 14, the day the World Cup begins, to decide.

"The question is, 'Do I still want to coach, to be on the bench, or is it time to take up different functions?'. The one thing I can say for sure is that I will continue to work."

Wenger, who guided Arsenal to three Premier League titles, including the famous "Invincibles" 2003-04 unbeaten season and seven FA Cups, said he was not certain whether, at his age, he wanted to go through the emotional turmoil of being a manager again.

"But do I want to continue to suffer as much?" said Wenger.

"I want to continue to defend my ideas of football, that's for sure. Spontaneously, I would say I still want to coach but I can't really say that yet for sure."

In a separate interview with beIN Sports, Wenger gave his backing to British media reports that have pinpointed Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta as the clear favourite to succeed him.

"He has all the qualities to do the job and he is one of the favourites," Wenger, who signed Arteta from Everton in 2011, said.

"He was a leader, has good passion and knows the club well, knows what is important at the club and was captain... once they (the board) make a decision, I will support him (the new Arsenal boss)."

Wenger added that there had been no discussions about a potential role with the Qatari owners of Paris Saint-Germain, and conceded that he is too restless to just loll around kicking his heels.

The 68-year-old has close links with PSG's owners and advised them to buy the club in 2011.

"I just can't do that. I get bored. I need to be doing something. I need a challenge. I have lived and breathed football all these years and it's a passion - I can't imagine doing anything else," he said.

Wenger said his lack of a firm plan for the future also filled him with anticipation.

"That's why, in a way, this is an exciting moment for me," he added. "I have a blank page in front of me. As all good writers know, that can be a time of anguish but... it's also a chance to write new chapters."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2018, with the headline 'Wenger to decide on new role by June 14'. Print Edition | Subscribe